Star Trek Beyond (2016)
D: Justin Lin. DP: Stephen F. Windon. W: Simon Pegg & Doug Jung. Starring: Chris Pine/Zachary Quinto/Karl Urban/Zoe Saldana/Simon Pegg/John Cho/Anton Yelchin/Idris Elba/Sofia Boutella/Shohreh Aghdashloo.
The next installment for the summer is Star Trek Beyond. The franchise has already made headlines in the untimely death of young actor Anton Yelchin who plays Chekov in this rebooted series of films. It certainly has made Star Trek fans and the industry pause. Against such a tremendous franchise that has created so much content, Yelchin will certainly be remembered for his charming piece in this puzzle.
The direction of this third film was handed over from J.J. Abrams to Justin Lin. Abrams directed both Star Trek as well as Star Trek Into Darkness, but his hands are now deep into Star Wars carbonite. Lin is not a stranger to the franchise world having directed four Fast & Furious films. Here he picks up the visuals and pacing nicely, jumping into a world well loved and well catered.
Star Trek Beyond finds Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) lamenting the endless days out in space and wondering what it all means. His teenage-like voice-over we could surely do without, but the captain’s log is a long standing tradition in the Trek world and this film cannot be an exception it seems. Beyond follows a usual narrative: the Enterprise ship holds an object of value to another ship or race (always anti-Federation), they are attacked to get said object, crew is scattered and ultimately must reassemble and destroy said object. Although not a Trekkie, from the original films and Next Generation films alone I know this narrative is pretty standard.
The standout from this installment is Sofia Boutella’s Jayla. Her outfit is surely Rey-esq, but her look is singular and stands out against the traditions of the Federation. Her physicality and grace carries Jayla, but it is her self taught tech know-how that sets her apart from usual female characters. Pegg, who co-wrote the screenplay, has nice play with her although he says the word ‘lassie’ far too many times. Almost reminding us of the Scottishness that is not indigenous to him. Everyone else fits back into their parts with Zachary Quinto’s eyebrow game as a young Spock still a thing to marvel at. The death of Leonard Nimoy is done with warmth and respect, a true icon of a character performance. Idris Elba does his best to act from underneath a pile of make-up. Much like Oscar Isaac in X-Men: Apocalypse, his movement is impeded by his costume. Thankfully his look is an actual plot device, his distinctive voice doing most of the work.
Overall Star Trek Beyond is a decent addition to the universe. Where the films will go from here is questionable. It is a testament to Gene Roddenberry that these characters continue to generate laughter and stories well beyond their years. This includes the newly announced television series, Star Trek: Discovery, that will air on CBS in the US and follow a different ship. The showrunner of the series will be Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daises, Hannibal) who will surely bring a creative flare to a series that could be a great with a new point of view. As a fan of his work I am intrigued and suggest you all get cracking through his series to see what he can do!